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When quoting someone who used a racial slur, should you censor the racial slur, and how should you do so?

I said that he's a *****. That's what I said.

When quoting someone who used a racial slur, should you censor it, and what's the correct way to censor it. Should you just use *****, or should you replace the slur with the actual reference to the racial slur, such as c-word, n-word, etc.?

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  • For what type of publication? Are you using a style guide?
    – Laurel
    Oct 8, 2022 at 1:27
  • technical writing, not a novel or anything, like a police report or a thesis.
    – Sayaman
    Oct 8, 2022 at 1:41

2 Answers 2

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Police report: Use the exact words.

With a thesis, it depends.

If it is a thesis about racism then I'd use the original words.

If it is about something else, and the racist remark is part of something you are quoting for other reasons then I'd censor it.

In all cases, make sure it is clear that you are quoting someone else.

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  • It's probably best to just always avoid it. Even in an academic setting where it's relevant you can get in trouble.
    – user54131
    Oct 8, 2022 at 18:25
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You can choose whether to quote anything word for word. I don't recommend "blurring" the word with *s though. Either you replace every letter, leaving people with no information other than "slur", or you leave enough that everyone can guess the word, in which case you might have well have just used it.

For your example, I would probably go with:

Mr Lastname confirmed he used the slur to refer to Mr Other. "That's what I said," he told me.

If your style guide won't allow "he told me" you can find another way to identify the quote. My point is only that the quote does not have to contain the offending word.

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